CONF: Jews, Christians, Greeks, Romans

from the Classicists list:

A few places are still available for the symposium below.  For information on registration and for other details about the symposium, please visit the website at:

A symposium in honour of Professor Tessa Rajak
University of Reading
Thursday, 25 June 2009
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The symposium is to mark the long and distinguished career of our colleague, Professor Tessa Rajak, and her many years of research, teaching, and service to the global academic community.


PHILIP ALEXANDER, Professor of Post-Biblical Jewish Studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester.  “Did the Rabbinic movement lose the West? Reflections on the fate of Greek-speaking Judaism after 70 CE”.
E. GILLIAN CLARK, Professor of Ancient History and Head of Subject (Classics & Ancient History), University of Bristol.  “Augustine and the Septuagint”.
HANNAH M. COTTON, Shalom Horowitz Professor of Classics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  “The Conception of Jesus and the Documents from the Judaean Desert”.
MARTIN D. GOODMAN, Professor of Jewish Studies and Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Oxford.  “Tolerance of Variety within Judaism in the Early Roman empire”.
ERICH S. GRUEN, Wood Professor of History Emeritus, University of California at Berkeley.  “Perseus as a Multi-Culturalist”.
FERGUS G. B. MILLAR, Camden Professor of Ancient History Emeritus, University of Oxford.  “Jews and Christians in Late Antique Mesopotamia”.
JOHN NORTH, Professor of History Emeritus, UCL, University of London.  “Pagan Orthopraxy”.
TESSA RAJAK, Professor of Ancient History Emeritus, University of Reading.  Moderator of final panel discussion.
For some time now, scholars have sought to undermine rigid distinctions between Jews, Christians, and other religious communities in Greco-Roman antiquity.  Researchers have progressed far in understanding the complex religious and cultural interactions that flourished in the Hellenistic and Roman periods and in exploring the social and cultural milieux inhabited by different religious groups.

In bringing together distinguished international experts in the field, this conference aims to evaluate and interrogate long-established positions and to move discussion to the next level.  We seek to build on the current understanding of religious interaction in the Roman Empire, and on the broader question of hybrid identities, and develop critical perspectives for future study.  The primary focus is Jewish-Christian interaction, but within the context of a broader framework that includes other religious communities.  What does religious multiculturalism mean in an ancient context?  What becomes of categories such as “Jew” and “Christian” (or “Diaspora Jew” and “Judaean Jew”, or “Pharisee”, “Sadducee”, and “Essene”) in a scenario where religious and cultural identities appear to be fluid?  How does the interpretation of sacred texts proceed in such a situation?  How exemplary is the case of the Empire’s Jewish communities?  What are the politics of religious contact and boundary-manipulation in the Roman Empire? What is the role of collective memory?  These are the questions we hope to address in our papers and discussions.

The symposium is sponsored by the Estate of Marilyn Dorothy Payne, the Jowett Copyright Trust, Oxford, and the School of Humanities and the Department of Classics at the University of Reading.

For further information, please contact Phiroze Vasunia at p.vasunia  AT or 0118 378 8410, or write to him at the Department of Classics, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AA, U.K.


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